Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, spoke by phone on Sunday, May 16, during the evening, with Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State, and received Sameh Shoukry, Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, on Monday, May 17, in order to exchange views with respect to the situation in the Middle East in particular. The minister and his counterparts shared their deep concern at the continuation of the ongoing escalation, the already very heavy human toll among the civilian populations, and the risks associated with the worsening of the conflict, its spread to the Palestinian Territories and Israel, and its regional repercussions. Together with his counterparts, the minister examined ways to strengthen their coordination in order to help end the violence.
Jean-Yves Le Drian underscored the need for a swift cessation of hostilities. He expressed his determination to continue to work toward that end with our American, Arab and European partners, as well as at the UN Security Council. He paid tribute to Egypt’s mediation efforts aimed at re-establishing the ceasefire, with which France’s approach is fully coordinated, in the context of President el-Sisi’s current visit to Paris. He utterly condemned the rocket attacks against population centers in Israeli territory, for which Hamas has notably claimed responsibility. He reaffirmed that the response to these unacceptable attacks must remain proportionate, in accordance with international law. He also reaffirmed that the security of journalists and all those who contribute to the freedom of information and public debate, as well as their protection in times of conflict, is a critical responsibility.
Jean-Yves Le Drian also underscored that all actors on the ground must exercise restraint, avoid any provocation and work toward ending the violence, notably in the West Bank. He called for the continuation of measures to ease tensions in Jerusalem, while reaffirming our attachment to the status quo of 1967 in the Holy Places and our strong opposition to all forms of settlement activity, notably the evictions in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
He reaffirmed France’s determination to help restore calm in Israel and in the Palestinian Territories, in collaboration with local, regional and international actors, as well as to take action within the relevant international forums, notably the Security Council and the EU Foreign Affairs Council, which is due to meet tomorrow.